Mind the millennials in 2018

Maria Church
October 04, 2018
By
Oct. 4, 2018 - Another year, another 10 outstanding young individuals are gracing the pages of our September/October issue as winners of our annual Top 10 under 40 contest. These under-40ers (one as young as 23) not only deserve to be recognized for their excellence in demonstrating strong work ethic, innovative spirit and safety consciousness, but also serve as an example of the changing face of forestry.


Nine of our 10 winners are millennials — born between 1980 and 2000. This demographic is the workforce of the future.

Today, more than ever, it’s innovations from employees that are giving companies an edge above the competition. The days of grunting on the green chain are dwindling. Automation and optimization, even for small specialty producers, are no longer the future, but the present, and employees need opportunities to continuously improve their skills to operate this technology.

In the bush it’s often the youth who are championing new, efficient technology and new processes to harvest more wood, faster. In the profile article Lighter logging we hear from 27-year-old Francis Brulotte, son of Quebec contractor Richard Brulotte, who convinced his father to purchase Canada’s first eight-wheel Komatsu 931XC harvester.

“I wouldn’t have bought it if I was by myself,” Richard tells CFI. “I invested because he will have 49 per cent of the company’s shares this year.” The Brulotte’s are anticipating a quick ROI given the new machine’s excellent fuel efficiency and minimal ground pressure, which opens new opportunities for the contractor in private woodlots.

Yet youth is also synonymous with inexperience. Whether it’s young employees or just new employees, companies need effective onboarding programs to pass on knowledge to the new hires from their more experienced employees.

In Kamloops, B.C., transportation services and logging company Munden Ventures allocates significant time and investment in human resources (HR) programs. Owner Greg Munden says as a small company without an HR department they must find time to develop their programs, but the programs they do create are more easily adopted with fewer employees.

On his list for happy drivers is effective scheduling, benefits, retirement savings, modern and safe equipment, and hourly pay rather than incentive-based pay. They’re obviously doing something right. Last year Munden Ventures took home an award from Trucking HR Canada as one of their 54 top fleet employers of 2017.

“Our family name is on the door of those trucks and we take a lot of pride in it. We’re lucky to have a unique group of people who have our best interests at heart and look after our name.” I’m not convinced luck has much to do about it. Read about their impressive HR strategies here.

Still, Munden, like many in the forest industry, is concerned about the impending skilled trades shortage. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this discussed over the past two years… But the frequency matches the gravity of the concern.

A September 2018 report from Business Development Canada found nearly 40 per cent of Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses are struggling to employ. This is directly related to retiring baby boomers. Labour shortages are most keenly felt in B.C., Ontario and Atlantic Canada. The report notes companies with “strong HR policies are more likely to keep current employees, attract new ones and grow sales faster.”

In this issue’s Final Cut column, EACOM president and CEO Kevin Edgson discusses the industry-wide need to engage the workforce of the future. With more and more millennials entering the workforce, he says, “Management must demonstrate an openness to creative thinking and a new way of doing things, especially if it is to achieve results.”

It’s advice that our Top 40 under 40 winners (one of which works for EACOM) would likely strongly support.

Join us in congratulating this year’s crop of forestry stars, and find their inspiring stories here.

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